Whether you’re new to filmmaking, or you’ve studied it for years, you may find that your cinematic knowledge has plateaued. So, now you seek some great filmmaking books to push your skills to the next level.
We’ve provided the best list of filmmaking books so that you can write, direct, film, finance, and complete your video projects – no matter what.
BEST FILMMAKING BOOKS
1. Hollywood Producers Directory
Author(s): J. Douma & D. Perez
This is by far the most important book on this list for practical use. Every serious producer owns this book. It consolidates most of the necessary resources needed to make a professional film, show, or new media project.
This book includes priceless information on vendors, permits, film financiers, production companies and more. When it comes to the best books about film, Hollywood Producers Directory is the go-to for producers, directors or anyone who wants to know more.
BEST BOOKS ABOUT FILM
2. Making Movies
Author(s): Sidney Lumet
We’ve featured concepts from Making Movies in many of our filmmaking videos, so it’s no surprise this book is on our list. Lumet gives away a ton of his secrets and techniques. And in great detail.
He also goes into the business of film, which is just as important as the physical production in many cases.Below in our video, we go super in-depth on one of the main lessons found in Making Movies - The Lens Plot. This is a highly advanced lesson.
As you just saw, this book is full of really helpful techniques to use and approaches to take with your projects. A must-read.
BEST SCREENWRITING BOOKS
3. Writing Movies for Fun and Profit
Author(s): T. Lennon & R. B. GarantWriting Movies for
This book is as much entertainment as it is a serious educational tool. You’ll feel more confident writing scripts, performing pitch meetings, taking notes, and even living in LA after reading this book.
One of the big things this screenwriting book touches on is the ability to take notes on your script. You need to develop a thick skin as a professional screenwriter, and the best way to receive notes from collaborators is with some grace. Have some tact. Then cash your check.
You’ll learn how to cut, recut, finish and send your edits to a music composer. Walter Murch also teaches his readers how to make a perfect “emotional cut”. Cue your Academy Award acceptance speech.In the Blink of an Eye is one of the best books on film editing.
FILM DIRECTION BOOKS
5. On Directing Film
On Directing Film helps explain the conception of ideas, how they move through the business pipeline and how to seize opportunity when it arises.
Mamet goes over everything from how to approach a script and direct actors to properly communicating with cinematographers and producers. He even touches on editing your own projects for maximum effectiveness. If you’re looking for a film production book on directing, look no further.
He shows you how to approach the script, how to direct actors, how to communicate with cinematographers, how to collaborate with producers, and how to edit your project for maximum effectiveness.
The whole book is based on classes Mamet taught at Columbia University.
FILM PRODUCTION BOOKS
6. Rebel Without A Crew
Author(s): Robert Rodriguez
This book takes you into one director’s journey to make a low budget, debut film. It is the perfect tool for someone looking to break into the filmmaking business. And in my opinion, it provides more practical guidance for beginning filmmakers than any other book on this list.
Robert Rodriguez has never lost the well-earned chip on his shoulder, and he loves to help others benefit from his fearless ingenuity.
BEST FILMMAKING BOOKS
7. Something Like an Autobiography
Author(s): Akira Kurosawa
You never want to miss an opportunity to learn from a true master, and that’s exactly what Something Like an Autobiography provides.
Akira Kurosawa is possibly the greatest filmmaker of all time. He elevated the art of filmmaking further than anyone alive. He used science, math and the language of cinema to completely alter the way humans view the universe. To fully understand his films, you need to read his book.
Kurosawa gives the reader insight into what it means to be a director. What it means to live that life beyond the business or the craft. How it changes you as a human being.
One of the greatest filmmakers. One of the greatest filmmaking books.
BEST BOOKS ABOUT FILM
8. Taking It All In
Author(s): Pauline Kael
Pauline Kael was a film critic for the New Yorker and remains a favorite of many elite Hollywood filmmakers, including Quentin Tarantino. She was brutally honest about films and helped usher in the unique cinematic culture that existed in the 1970’s.
Kael isn’t the end-all-be-all of critics, and her opinions are by no means gospel, but the lessons you learn from her book are invaluable. Especially when you disagree with them.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY BOOKS
9. Master Shots Vol. 1, 2, 3
Author(s): Christopher Kenworthy
This book is a fantastic visual aid that takes a deep dive into the emotional outcome of the greatest shots in filmmaking. Kenworthy shows you how framing, angles, and camera movement.
I’ve known directors and cinematographers who carry this book with them on set, just in case they ever want to return to it for reference.
Cinematographers love this book because it’s all about the visuals.
Directors love this book because it improves their camera literacy better than many other film production books.
BEST BOOKS ON SCREENWRITING
10. Save The Cat
Author(s): Blake Snyder
Blake Snyder boiled screenwriting down to a science. And while many screenwriters resist his Hollywood formula, someone has yet to create a more widely accepted template for selling your script.
Producers, studio executives and talent representatives read Save the Cat more than they read any other screenwriting book, because it features an almost foolproof beat sheet that was informed by film financiers.If you’ve finished your script, but can’t sell it, read Save the Cat.
BEST FILMMAKING BOOKS
11. The Filmmaker’s Handbook
Author(s): Stephen Ascher & Edward PincusThe Filmmaker’s Handbook discusses everything you need to know to make a movie. Plain and simple. It gives the broadest amount of information of any book on this list. That also means that it gives you the most basic information, and may not dip into the specifics you crave.
With a combination of classic lessons and modern techniques, it’s a film production book that you can rely on.
Directors, writers, producers, and production coordinators - everyone will learn something from The Filmmaker’s Handbook.
What Does a Producer Do? Learn the Various Types of Producers in Film & TV
You now know exactly which books will get you deeper film knowledge. Now that you know the best filmmaking books, it’s time to further improve your industry knowledge.
Check out our post on What Does a Producer Do: The Various Types of Producers in Film & TV, where we break down the jurisdiction of each producer, and explain why Hollywood created the various producer roles.